Three Examples That Illustrate Why It’s Important to Protect Your Business from Intellectual Property Theft

intellectual property agreementAs an inventor or entrepreneur, you may not think that protecting your intellectual property is important — but think again. Intellectual property theft occurs more frequently than you might think, so having the legal recourse to fight these battles could make all the difference in whether you get to keep offering your products and services.

Here are three reasons why you need to protect your intellectual property rights as soon as possible:

1. To fight intellectual property theft: Intellectual property cases can be difficult to fight if you don’t already have proper protections in place. For example, if your shop’s name and logo aren’t trademarked, it makes it fairly easy for another business to come along and steal your ideas. Seeking intellectual property protections as soon as possible can prevent grief later on.

For instance, retailers who haven’t entered into an intellectual property agreement to sell their wares could sue those who are selling knock-offs. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., based in China, has come under fire in recent months for allowing companies to sell counterfeit items of popular designer brands on their eCommerce website. The company is currently working with regulators to crack down on infringed items, in part to avoid getting sued (again) by luxury brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, both of which are owned by Kering SA.

2. To protect yourself from potential infringement: Sometimes, however, entrepreneurs won’t notice that their creations have been stolen until it’s too late. Small businesses are especially vulnerable, with former employees posing as intellectual property thieves around 21% of the time; trusted business partners account for 17% of such thefts. Many of these companies find they have a hard time fighting infringement cases due to limited resources, especially if they didn’t have protections in place to begin with.

An incident like this occurred recently in San Francisco. Noodles Raw Catering LLC operates two “Chubby Noodle” restaurants in the city; when they heard that a rival company, Saison Group LLC, planned to open a “Fat Noodle” restaurant, the company took action to prevent the competitor from opening. Saison argued that they had come up with the “Fat Noodle” logo in 2008, but it’s unknown whether they have any evidence to back up that claim. Noting similar logos, as well, the owners of Chubby Noodle were able to bring their case before the court.

3. To enter into an intellectual property agreement: When creators already have their work protected, they can enter into an intellectual property agreement in order to license that work for hire. For instance, a writer might do this to contribute their work to an anthology or collection of written works.

In some instances, inventors and artists may seek to cash in on their intellectual property in other ways. Pop singer Taylor Swift already has her song lyrics copyrighted — a process that helps provide the basis for how artists and other creators are compensated. But now Swift has sought trademarks for her song lyrics, so they can be printed and marketed on products such as home decor products, handbags, clothing, and even Christmas ornaments for fans who want to “Party Like It’s 1989.”

Have more questions or concerns on IP law? Leave a comment below.